Passage: Matthew 6:14-15 [NKJV]
Mat 6:14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.Mat 6:15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. [NLT]
At first glance, when I read these two texts, I was tempted to think that Jesus was laying out a strict ultimatum. He seems to be saying clearly that we cannot be forgiven unless we are willing to forgive. The statement he is making is plain simple truth, but is it an ultimatum from a strict overbearing ruler or instruction from a loving redeemer who wants us to understand a simple concept of grace?
I think that if we view these two texts in the light of the rest of the bible and especially from what we can learn from the parable given later in Matthew 18:21-35, we will find that Jesus is trying to get us to understand a simple piece of what grace is.
Let's looks at the parable...
Mat 18:23 "Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.
Mat 18:24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.
Mat 18:25 He couldn't pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
Mat 18:26 "But the man fell down before his master and begged him, 'Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.'
Mat 18:27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
Mat 18:28 "But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
Mat 18:29 "His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it,' he pleaded.
Mat 18:30 But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
Mat 18:31 "When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.
Mat 18:32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.
Mat 18:33 Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'
Mat 18:34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
Mat 18:35 "That's what My heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart." [NLT]
To sum up this parable, we have a man who owes the King a great debt. By standards of the time he would have owed the king millions of dollars, a debt impossible to pay. He is brought before the King and the King forgives his whole debt. The man leaves and soon runs into a person that owes him a small amount. He demands that this person pay his debt in full, with threat of violence. When the person begs for mercy (forgiveness), the man has no mercy. The man is then brought again before the King and the King sentences him to full punishment, revoking his forgiveness.
Forgiveness is such a tough subject. I will now attempt to briefly describe what this means. Please forgive me if I miss some point, as there are many that can be discussed.
If I, who owes EVERYTHING... my eternal soul, my life, and my salvation... to the forgiveness provided to me from Christ, turn around after receiving it and am unable to forgive someone who owes me, then it means I never really understood, accepted, believed or cherished the the forgiveness given to me. Therefore I never REALLY accepted the gift in the first place. There is nothing that can be done with a gift that is not accepted.
To say it in another way...Truly understood and accepted forgiveness will free you to be forgiving and you would never even think of not being willing to forgive someone else. How can you be forgiving if you don't really understand the true depth of the forgiveness that has been given to you.
So, to get back to our passage. Jesus is plainly stating the truth. Our heavenly father cannot really forgive, or "give us" the gift of forgiveness, if we don't accept that gift and pass it on.
Dear Father in Heaven,
Lord, I ask you today to give me a spirit of forgiveness with everyone I meet. Help me to not feel angry towards those people who seek to harm me, but Lord help me also to be forgiving of those who simply do things that I don't feel are right. Who am I to question You Lord. You have forgiven me so very much, help me to always remember that Lord.
Please be with the prayer requests on the prayer list. May Your Will be done in each situation.
Thank You for all that You provide. Thank You for my family, my friends, and my life. Please show me how to be a help to those I come into contact with. Lord, please put someone in my path today that I can help and show me what I should do to really help that person. Be with my daughter especially Lord...keep her safe and help her to see our love for her.
Thank you for the sacrifice you made to bring me a choice. Help me to always choose you, daily. Amen.